2 minute read

The early days of COVID-19 were a frightening scramble for all, but nowhere more-so than the hospital and healthcare setting.

Community Health Network confirmed Indiana’s first case in early March, which required an immediate pivot in the way the system was communicating with patients, caregivers and the local community.

Al Larsen, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, recently shared insights on how Community Health Network worked through the complex challenges of this public health crisis and where it is headed next. 

Trial and Error

One of the biggest learnings came from the trial and error of overhauling network communications and the need to be flexible. In the early days of the pandemic, caregivers were either lacking information or overwhelmed. The team had to step away from some historical systems while introducing new channels and methods of communicating, based on real-time feedback from various audiences.

And one of the biggest wins was the development of a daily audio message that meets caregivers where they are, often at the beginning or end of a shift. Many of these employees are not deskbound so producing audio communications with important information allows them to listen anywhere and is much more accessible. 

Being Nimble

Reprioritizing marketing initiatives was necessary because the healthcare system was no longer accepting patients for elective procedures. The entire team pitched in, taking on responsibilities beyond their typical daily role. This is a great reminder to utilize people in new ways so that everyone stays engaged and is helping contribute to the larger cause. While the pandemic isn’t over yet, the team is embracing the insights they’ve garnered thus far and improved ways of working.

Prioritizing Well-being

In a crisis situation, it’s far too easy to run on adrenaline until crisis fatigue sets in. 

In mid-April, the incident command team enforced a weekend break after recognizing people had been working every day for more than six weeks and were starting to burn out. The intensity of the situation was starting to take a toll and people needed a chance to step away and recharge.

Frontline staff and caregivers were also at risk. After sharing only necessary information, the communications team realized they needed to provide more inspiration-focused messaging and the tools and information to help look after their own health and well-being. What started as a temporary tool during the early days of the pandemic is now a dedicated weekly initiative.

Navigating a sustained crisis, while stressful and difficult in the moment, pushes organizations to think and act differently, to ultimately emerge stronger. To learn more about how Community used pandemic learnings to emerge stronger, watch the full Shoff Chat episode.

If you want to discuss crisis and issues preparation and management for your own organization, Contact Whitney Ertel.

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